Eight state senators are leaving the Unicameral; six due to term limits, two on their own.
Sen. Roy Baker of Lincoln, the retired Norris School superintendent, says he’ll miss serving.
“The things that we do here in this legislature probably impact the people of Nebraska to a greater degree than what goes on in Washington, D.C,” Baker tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Baker retired as superintendent of the Norris School District in 2010. He ran for the legislature to put his experience to work, serving as an advocate in the Unicameral for public education, including higher education.
Baker stayed in Lincoln to care for elderly in-laws. With their death, he and his wife decided he would not run for re-election, but would move closer to their children and grandchildren; one in Minnesota and one in Arizona. Baker jokes that he will spend summers in Minnesota and winters in Arizona.
Baker says he will miss the legislature and plans to stay active in some capacity in his new communities. His advice to those seeking election to the Unicameral: don’t make commitments early. Baker says candidates need to resist pressure to make decisions before entering the legislature and listening to the debate.
Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell leaves for a different reason. Kuehn, in his mid-40s, says he leaves his legislative seat after one term to concentrate on his career as a veterinarian, professor, and rancher.
Kuehn will miss serving as well but won’t miss the growing incivility of politics.
“There’s not always a lot of respect for the complexity of the decisions that we face,” Kuehn tells Nebraska Radio Network. “People really are polarized, and they manifest that in their communication.”
Kuehn tells a story of an Internet troll who aggressively criticized him through social media. The person happened to sit in front of him at a legislative hearing. The person avoided eye contact as well as attempts by Kuehn to engage in a conversation.
Kuehn says he hopes he succeeded in his attempts to bring transparency and accountability to the legislative process. His advice to candidates is to know their principles and to stick to them. Kuehn says he’s proud he’s leaving with the same principles and convictions that he came in with.
Kuehn says he will miss the Capitol, especially his friends and staff, but adds, no matter how corny it might sound, he is homesick for Heartwell and welcomes the opportunity to return to the small community in south-central Nebraska.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]